September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Legislative Update – Looking Forward to an Exciting Year

Posted: Monday, December 3rd, 2012

2013 promises to be an interesting year in the California legislature, both generally and quite possibly for science education. One major item expected to be debated during this legislative season is the issue of the statewide assessment system. Last year, AB 250 (Brownley) called for Superintendent Torlakson to deliver his recommendation for the re-authorization of the statewide assessment system to the legislature in the fall of 2013. While we have not yet seen the final recommendation, CSTA has been following the preparations for the recommendation quite closely. 

As a part of the process of developing the recommendation, the California Department of Education has held public meetings, formed a work group of education stakeholders that included classroom teachers (even one science teacher!), provided updates to and received input from the State Board of Education, conducted a survey, and accepted comments via email. CSTA participated in the public meetings, attended and commented during several of the work group meetings, has commented during State Board of Education meetings, and sent the word out to members about the survey and email option. All of this activity was made possible because of the support of CSTA members. For a complete listing of activities and the requirements for assessment outlined in AB 250 visit http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sa/ab250.asp. There you will also find a very informative (and lengthy) webcast archive of a public information meeting that was held by CDE staff on October 1, 2012 on the subject of the state-wide assessment system.

There is a good deal of confusion, rumor, and speculation around the future assessment system for California. However, until the legislature acts, there are no set in stone assessment plans for the replacement of the STAR assessment system in California. That said, all signs point to California moving forward with the implementation of the Smarter Balanced (SBAC) assessments. The SBAC assessments will begin in the spring of 2015 and will cover the assessment of the Common Core ELA and Math Standards (collectively CCSS) in grades 3-8 and 11. It is important to note that the SBAC assessments do not address any other subjects, not science, not history, nothing but Common Core ELA and Math Standards.

As to the future of CAHSEE, End of Course exams in science and other subjects, testing in grades other than 3-8 and 11, and the testing of science in grades 3-8 and 11, that is what will be determined in the coming months in the legislature. If this subject is of interest to you, please stay tuned for updates from CSTA in California Classroom Science. If you are not a current member of CSTA, we encourage you to join today, as your support will make a big difference in CSTA’s ability to participate in a meaningful way in the assessment conversation. It is not just the support that will come financially from your dues, it is the support with the number of members that we will be able to tout as our voice representing.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

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Thriving in a Time of Change

Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

By the time this message is posted online, most schools across California will have been in session for at least a month (if not longer, and hat tip to that bunch!). Long enough to get a good sense of who the kids in your classroom are and to get into that groove and momentum of the daily flow of teaching. It’s also very likely that for many of you who weren’t a part of a large grant initiative or in a district that set wheels in motion sooner, this is the first year you will really try to shift instruction to align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging year – change is hard. Change is even harder when there’s not a playbook to go by.  But as someone who has had the very great privilege of walking alongside teachers going through that change for the past two years and being able to glimpse at what this looks like for different demographics across that state, there are three things I hope you will hold on to. These are things I have come to learn will overshadow the challenge: a growth mindset will get you far, one is a very powerful number, and it’s about the kids. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.

If You Are Not Teaching Science Then You Are Not Teaching Common Core

Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn 

“Science and Social Studies can be taught for the last half hour of the day on Fridays”

– Elementary school principal

Anyone concerned with the teaching of science in elementary school is keenly aware of the problem of time. Kids need to learn to read, and learning to read takes time, nobody disputes that. So Common Core ELA can seem like the enemy of science. This was a big concern to me as I started looking at the curriculum that my district had adopted for Common Core ELA. I’ve been through those years where teachers are learning a new curriculum, and know first-hand how a new curriculum can become the focus of attention- sucking all the air out of the room. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Elizabeth Cooke

Think back on your own experiences with learning science in school. Were you required to memorize disjointed facts without understanding the concepts?

Science Education Background

In the past, science education focused on rote memorization and learning disjointed ideas. Elementary and secondary students in today’s science classes are fortunate now that science instruction has shifted from students demonstrating what they know to students demonstrating how they are able to apply their knowledge. Science education that reflects the Next Generation Science Standards challenges students to conduct investigations. As students explore phenomena and discrepant events they engage in academic discourse guided by focus questions from their teachers or student generated questions of that arise from analyzing data and creating and revising models that explain natural phenomena. Learn More…

Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.

News and Happenings in CSTA’s Region 1 – Fall 2017

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Cal

This month I was fortunate enough to hear about some new topics to share with our entire region. Some of you may access the online or newsletter options, others may attend events in person that are nearer to you. Long time CSTA member and environmental science educator Mike Roa is well known to North Bay Area teachers for his volunteer work sharing events and resources. In this month’s Region 1 updates I am happy to make a few of the options Mike offers available to our region. Learn More…

Written by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw is the student services director at Siskiyou County Office of Education and is CSTA’s Region 1 Director and chair of CSTA’s Policy Committee.

Is This a First: Young Female Teens Propose California Water Conservation Legislation?

Posted: Monday, August 28th, 2017

Meet the La Habra Water Guardians from the Optics of their Teacher Moderator, Dr. P.

by Susan M. Pritchard, Ph.D.

You have just won the 2016 Lexus Eco Challenge as one of four First Place Winners in the Middle School Category across the nation! Now, what are you going to do … go to Disneyland? No, not for four of the six La Habra Water Guardians, Disneyland is not in their future at this time. Although I think they would love a trip to Disneyland, (are you listening Mickey Mouse?), at this moment they are focused big time on one major thing … celebrating the passage of their proposed legislation: Assembly Bill 1343 Go Low Flow Water Conservation Partnership Bill and now promoting the enactment of this legislation. Learn More…

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From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.